NIA grills IIT-Guwahati prof over anti-CAA protests

IIT Guwahati professor quizzed again by NIA for "fuelling" anti-CAA protests

File photo of IIT Guwahati

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Tuesday quizzed eminent environmental historian and a professor of IIT Guwahati, Arupjyoti Saikia for the third day in connection with alleged nexus of peasants' rights leader Akhil Gogoi with the Maoists and the violent protest against CAA here in December.

The NIA did not relent on Tuesday despite displeasure expressed by more than 40 intellectuals including eminent historian Ramachandra Guha against Saikia's grilling since Sunday.

Sources said after Tuesday's grilling, Saikia was called by the NIA to appear again on February 7 for further questioning.

Although the NIA did not disclose why the 52-year-old professor was quizzed, sources said Saikia was asked questions regarding the allegation that Gogoi and his aides maintained relations with the Maoists to fuel public anger against CAA and the BJP government. Saikia also did not speak to media yet regarding his grilling.

Gogoi and a few of his aides were arrested by the NIA soon after the violent protest against CAA that broke out here on December 11 and 12. Saikia reportedly has close relations with Gogoi, who was booked under sedition charge and is still in judicial custody.

Days later, Assam minister Himanta Biswa Sarma told reporters that an academic associated with a central educational institute "monitored" the violent protest against CAA and instructed the agitators over the phone.

Saikia is a professor of history in the department of humanities and social sciences at the IITG.

Expressing concern over Saikia's grilling by the NIA, a statement issued by the intellectuals said, “We, a group of Indian scholars and academics from across the country, write in distress and with concern with regard to the ongoing ordeal of Professor Arupjyoti Saikia. Professor Saikia is one of the country’s most distinguished and respected historians. The author most recently of a landmark history of the Brahmaputra River, he has also written significant works on forest and agrarian history."

It further said professor Saikia is an adornment to the literary and intellectual world of Assam and of India. He is also an individual of high moral character; gentle, soft-spoken, and utterly non-violent. His devotion to his students at IIT Guwahati is exemplary.

"That a scholar of such standing, and a human being of such decency, has been called for intensive grilling by the NIA is deeply distressing. We urge the NIA to treat him with dignity and respect he deserves, and allow him to continue his professional work unimpeded," it added.

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